9.21.2009

Robey Left an Impression in Beantown

1983-84 Boston Celtics

His Celtic teammates called him "Footer." The Garden masses would go crazy whenever he made a free throw. He always stood next to Kevin McHale duringthe national anthem. He was Thumper and McHale was Bumper - or was it the other way around?

For a guy who never played more than two quarters per game, Rick Robey certainly made an impression in Boston. He was a player with obvious flaws, but was always an effective role player and one of the most popular Celtics during the Bill Fitch reign of terror. When Robey left, Larry Bird said, "It's like losing a brother." Robey was an enforcer and his teammates appreciated him. He never complained about sitting on the bench, and still says, "I feel if you're gonna be a team player, you never open your mouth about certain things."

Robey and his devastating elbows are in Arizona these days. He was shipped to the Suns in exchange for Dennis Johnson the day before the 1983 draft. Last night Robey could manage only three points as the Parish-less Celtics, led by Bird's 29 points, beat the Suns, 126-118.

McHale started at center and was spelled by Greg Kite in the second period, but Kite picked up four personals and was not seen again. Winford King became the third man in the pivot in that period. By the fourth period the Celtics were at times playing without a true center.Ever true to his large form, Robey looked the same last night. His weight has stabilized at 245, but he says he'd like to get down to 230 by the start of the regular season. (He's been hampered with a groin pull since the first day of practice). Phoenix coach John MacLeod plans to bring him off the bench along with Alvan Adams.

It still hurts to talk about last year. Robey was benched for 23 of his last 46 games as a Celtic, and admits, "Last year was the toughest on me. I just kept sitting there. All the players realized the way the team was going. It wasn't the same as the year we won the championship. That year, everyone knew their roles; but last year, the roles kept changing from night to night. It made it tougher for us to win in a pressure situation, and that's why we
didn't at the end."

He has sold his house in Newton and severed ties with the Sports Gallery & Cafe investors in Faneuil Hall Marketplace. Boston is behind him, and most memories are good. They were good to me there and I had a lot of fun in my five years there," he says. "I had a lot of close friends who I played with there for four years. I hope the best for them and for K. C. I just hope we win one more game than they do."

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